In this week’s #AskTDS, we answer a question asked regularly by both tenants and landlords – “How long does an adjudication take?”

At the end of a tenancy, it’s important for all parties that any disagreement is sorted out as quickly as possible.

Tenancy Deposit Disputes

When a tenancy comes to an end there are sometimes disagreements over whether deductions can be made and therefore how the deposit is distributed. The landlord may want to make deductions from the deposit for cleaning, damage, decoration, gardening or rent arrears if any of these items are identified as being the tenants’ responsibility and that the tenancy deposit may be used for any losses. If the tenant does not agree with the landlord over these amounts, then it could be that this becomes a tenancy deposit dispute.

If your deposit is correctly protected in a tenancy deposit protection scheme, the scheme provider may be able to offer free to access a dispute resolution service to help you resolve the matter and facilitate the distribution of the deposit.

Dispute Resolution at TDS

TDS offers a free dispute resolution service to all members of both the Insured and Custodial schemes. The dispute resolution service consists of two main parts:

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
  • Adjudication

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

At TDS we are actively reducing the number of disputes that are managed in our adjudication process by offering ADR. The ADR procedure is used for settling disputes without the need to go to court. By facilitating conversations between landlords and tenants, amicable agreements can sometimes be made on what happens to the deposit. Whilst TDS will, in some circumstances, decline the offer of ADR, maybe where claims are particularly vexatious or unreasonable, for the vast majority of customers using this service it means avoiding the hassle of getting a Court Order and going down a more complex legal path. However, if an agreement cannot be made through ADR, the deposit dispute will need to be resolved through our formal adjudication process.


Adjudication is a legal process in which an adjudicator reviews the written evidence provided by the parties to come to a decision on what will happen to the deposit. Our adjudication process is designed to be simple, one that can be understood by all parties, and not just adjudicators and those familiar with legal and property jargon. The more relevant evidence our adjudicators receive, the more accurately can they determine whether an award can be made. An audit trail of information kept throughout a tenancy can be a real help in making sure disputes are resolved as quickly as possible.

For example, a thorough tenancy agreement that makes the obligations of both parties in a clear easy to understand way, is useful for an adjudicator to come to a decision. Similarly, an inventory report which sets out exactly the contents and condition of a property, completed preferably with embedded photos, is of great evidential value. Both documents, if completed properly, make it less likely that an adjudication process will need to be undertaken – allowing for an even quicker solution whereby parties can sort out any issues themselves.

How long does a TDS adjudication take?

At TDS we endeavour to ensure all adjudication processes are resolved within approximately 28 days – but often, the process takes far less time. As soon as the adjudicator has finalised their decision, this is issued to all parties. 

While it can be frustrating waiting on a decision to be made, especially in instances where the deposit money is needed as quickly as possible, TDS always aims to provide very quick and clear decisions, keeping all parties in touch at all times by logging into their evidence portal.

TDS received the Customer Service Excellence Award continuously for the last 10 years to show recognition of their customer focussed processes.

For more information on deposit disputes and adjudication please visit:

About TDS

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and provides a fair impartial adjudication process for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.

TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.

TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.

TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.

TDS Northern Ireland: TDS is Northern Ireland’s leading and only not for profit tenancy deposit protection scheme.

TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.

These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.

ARLA|Propertymark: For agents who would like to stay up to date, you can contact Propertymark | ARLA at: By being a member of Propertymark | ARLA you will be eligible for TDS Insured best headline rates.

RLA: If you are a landlord and would like to keep up to date with any changes that may affect you or your responsibilities, you can contact the RLA at: and quote reference: dg715 to receive 25% off your first year’s membership.

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